If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

Rob Sinclair Barnes

Strategic Marketing Director, Airlines, Amadeus IT Group

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This African proverb was mentioned by Glenn Morgan, Head of Digital Business Transformation at IAG, at this year’s IATA World Passenger Symposium. The proverb framed the conversations over the next three days, as industry experts debated together on how to drive transformation across the industry.


The challenge for the airline industry? To ensure that changing passenger needs are met, while generating the revenues and profit margins that shareholders demand.

The call for more industry collaboration is always a well-used phrase at airline industry events, but this year it was encouraging to see several spokespeople praising the efforts that have already taken place to date. Susan Doniz, the Group CIO at Qantas, mentioned that collaboration is one of the first things she noticed on joining the airline industry. Codeshare and interlining arrangements have characterised the industry since its early days.

Equally, in response to a call out on when the airline industry would be “uberised”, Paul Tilstone, the Managing Partner at Festive Road, said that it wasn’t fair to compare the airline industry to Uber or Amazon. The airline industry has a lot of regulatory frameworks that don’t allow it to move as quickly.

So, what does need to be done? Amadeus sponsored an Executive Summit session on the first day of the conference, inviting key customers and partners to discuss the main barriers in a more private format.

Participants had three questions to tackle in roundtables, and then shared their thoughts with the wider room. Some of the pain points aired were on the need for more agility, the high cost of entry which doesn’t allow new entrants to come in easily, and the siloes that still exist in some businesses and that hamper information sharing.

On the other hand, some of the common goals to aim for included a decision on shared KPIs across the industry, so that we work together to drive change, supported by an increased focus on the customer as a general mind-set.

Overall, the session stimulated a candid debate, which will be used by IATA and Amadeus with other key industry leaders to drive discussions moving forward. Because in the travel industry, going alone isn’t an option. We are all connected by a rich and complex ecosystem, with the traveller as our common thread.

We are proud of the role that our technology plays as an enabler in that ecosystem, and of what we have achieved together with our customers and partners as we celebrate our 30th year anniversary as a company. Honest discussions, partnerships and innovation have brought us to where we are today, and will continue to be key drivers to take us further in the years to come.